28 days of
The Challenge

Meditate everyday for 28 days — sit, breath and be present.

This experiment has completely blown my mind…

Start Here.

Stress and running on adrenaline have become part of my daily life.

I’m 100% addicted to it.

I actually find myself craving the hit when all of a sudden my life slows down. I feel like if I stop moving I’ll never be able to start again – if I sit on the sofa for a day I will still be in 20 years time, remote in hand, starting at Geordie Shore.

And, if that isn’t enough to make me feel really nervous about this experiment, the idea of spending time alone with my thoughts makes me feel really uneasy. To be completely honest, I don’t really want to know what’s going on in my own head when I don’t crowd it with ‘busy.’

I live an hour / day / week / year ahead of myself – my mind is constantly planning, thinking and solving, or revisiting past situations and how they made me feel and then judging that feeling. Or judging the judgement on that feeling! I would love to be able to be more present and grounded and be truly aware of how I am actually feeling right now, in this moment. Could daily meditation help with this?

So, other than shitting myself about how challenging and confronting this is going to be, I’m also really interested to see what happens when I meditate everyday for 28 days.

I will focus on mindful meditation during this experiment, which is more about being present and has less of a spiritual connection than some other types of meditation:

“Paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgement.”

— Jon Kabat-Zinn

I will use the Headspace app quite a bit over the 28 days simply because it is the one guided meditation I have found so far that I feel comfortable using:

“…we define mindfulness as the intention to be present in the here and now, fully engaged in whatever is happening, free from distraction or judgement with a soft and open mind. Meditation is a simple exercise of familiarisation with the qualities of mindfulness. It helps optimise conditions for training the mind to be calmer, clearer and kinder.”

During this experiment I will be monitoring my brain waves with a Muse Headband, which monitors all five brainwaves (Alpha, Delta, Theta, Beta and Gamma)

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Feeling Anxious And Panicky

Quite a few people have said to me that this challenge will be a cakewalk compared to eating only raw food or smashing out a month of CrossFit, but the reality is I think this is going to be the hardest one yet. I’m REALLY bad at sitting still, and even worse at calming my mind.


To kick off my 28 Days of Meditation I got up 30 minutes early and headed downstairs to my living room to start my session around 7:00am.

I opened my phone to my Headspace App, plugged in my headphones and Andy instructed me to observe how I was feeling. The words that came to mind were scatterbrained, anxious and panicky….


Getting straight out of bed into a sitting position felt weird and uncomfortable (I would normally jump in the shower or do a bit of yoga), even breathing felt forced and restricted and I felt really wired like I had just had a double espresso (which I hadn’t).

I feel pretty confident in saying that I’m really, really shit at meditating. Which is actually a great thing – it means there is a lot of room for improvement over the next 28 days…

The focus of my 15 minute session this morning was on the people in my life and how being mindful will affect relationships. I get that, and I get how that focus could result in a really special meditation session, but I didn’t manage to get there this morning, at all.

It also didn’t help that I was really hungry – I might have to have a pre-meditation snack when I am meditating first thing in the morning.

“The words that came to mind were scatterbrained, anxious and panicky.”

There was one interesting element that came out of the session this morning. Three things kept coming into my mind – all three thoughts were things that had happened yesterday at work and they all had evoked some sort of strong emotion. One of my aims for the month is to be more present, and be more aware of how I am feeling in the moment. It is interesting that these things were still floating around in my head and I was only then really understanding how they actually made me feel.

“I feel pretty confident in saying that I’m really, really sh*t at meditating.”



Four free meditation apps to get you started:

One Giant Mind
Stop Breathe and Think


15 minutes session in the morning using Headspace app

Today’s Brain Wave Activity

Each day I will be recording myAlpha, Beta and Gamma brain waves during my meditation. In short, alpha waves occur when you are calm and relaxed, so I will be aiming to increase my Alpha waves during my meditation sessions as the month progresses. More on that over the following days. Here is today’s brainwave activity:

graph, meditation, 28 days of me

Blue = alpha waves, 43%
Yellow = beta waves, 38%
Pink = gamma waves, 19%

Photo credit: Cathryn Lavery

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Waves which occur when relaxed and calm
Occur when actively thinking or problem-solving
Occur when involved in higher mental activity and consolidation of information.

Alpha, Beta And Gamma Graphs

When I first started planning 28 Days of Meditation, I was looking for a way to make it measurable. It is one thing to be able to say I feel calmer, or I feel less stressed (or I feel no change at all), but it’s important to be able to see actual data that supports this.

I came across Muse, which is a brain sensing headband, that is used in conjunction with their app, to train your brain to be calmer, in a similar way to how you train your body at the gym.

“(Muse) improves your attention by training you to become aware of your distractions quicker and react faster to regain focus on what you’re doing.”

Now, the way I’m using the headband is a bit of a hack – with the help of my developer mate Ralph, we are able to monitor my brainwaves during my meditation sessions and track this information in a graph. And who doesn’t love a good graph?

Below is my brainwave reading from today’s session.

In short, it’s a good thing if I can increase the percentage of my alpha waves as these become more prevalent when you are relaxed and calm.

meditation graph, brainwaves, musebeadband

Blue = alpha waves, 60%
Yellow = beta waves, 30%
Pink = gamma waves, 10%

I can already see that today my alpha waves were higher. Now, this probably has nothing to do with me getting better at meditation and everything to do with the fact that it is a weekend day and I got to meditate in bed! (…and I love bed) so it was no surprise that I was more relaxed and calm during my session this morning.

“We are able to monitor my brainwaves during my meditation sessions and track this information in a graph.”

I didn’t really feel any significant change in my mood or mindset after my morning meditation – perhaps a tiny bit calmer, but I think this is more wishful thinking. I am predicting I will find it is the hardest to meditate in the morning because my brain is so active at this time and wants to plan the day ahead.


Mindful in May is an organisation that encouragers you to meditate for 10 minutes a day during the month of May. They supply online guided meditation sessions for a small registration fee, and then you fundraise on top of that to bring clean water to developing countries. Neat idea.

Daily Meditation

Today I did the 10 minute body scan meditation from Mindful in May. Plus a 3 minute Muse session (using the Muse headband)

And this has absolutely nothing to do with this experiment but I couldn’t resist… even Nickelback loves a graph.

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Waves which occur when relaxed and calm
Waves which occur when, for example, actively thinking or problem-solving
Waves which occur when involved in higher mental activity and consolidation of information

Super Manic Brain

Today my brain was super active during my meditation. Thoughts kept popping into my head like jolts of lighting and I could actually feel my heart rate get faster and the adrenaline kicking in. I definitely wasn’t deliberately trying to think, or find problems to solve, but it was happening anyway, beyond my control.

You can see this on the graph – there is a lot more beta and gamma brain wave activity than there has been for the two previous days.

I don’t have any explanation as to why my brain was so manic today. I tried a slightly different approach – I meditated in the afternoon after I had done some exercise. I am finding the traditional meditation sitting position a bit uncomfortable, so I was hoping doing some exercise and stretching beforehand would help with this. It did help, but perhaps not so much with finding my calm.

I’m finding that the thoughts that pop into my mind are the ones that have the strongest emotional connection from the past day or so, which I guess is most likely normal.

I read an article today about how it sometimes feels like our minds can be more crazy during meditation:

“Once we pause and start paying attention to our mind, we begin to see how erratic and addictive it is and how little control we actually have over it. It can be disturbing to realize how unruly our mind is. But, remember, meditation is a practice of paying attention. So, making this observation is a sign of progress, not failure.”


Today I used a 15 minute headspace session at home in the afternoon.

Today’s Brain Wave Activity

graph, meditation

Blue = Alpha waves, 36%
Yellow = Beta waves, 36%
Pink = Gamma waves, 27%


Mindfulness vs Blogging

I’ve hit a wall. There’s an inherent contradiction with becoming more mindful, and writing and maintaining a daily blog. This only dawned on me today as I have noticed how grumpy and frustrated I am getting by this process.

“I feel that the work involved with daily blogging is hindering my progress to becoming more ‘mindful’.”

I can feel the anxiety creeping in when preparing and writing each day’s blog post, when the whole idea of this particular experiment is to pull back from the busyness and pace of ‘normal’ life to become more mindful and calm.  This ‘busyness’ is pretty common-place these days – we live on computers, we have smart phones, chat programs, email, texts, WhatsApp, Skype, Facetime, Slack… all of these things get in the way of creating a calmer and more focused mind.

My aim for 28 Days of Meditation is to be more present, and more aware of how I am feeling in the moment. However, right now I am distracted by all the peripheral stuff that is involved with this blog – technical issues with the headset, collecting the data, site update issues and social media. With all this going on, it’s more of a struggle than I had anticipated to focus on the meditation and to be mindful throughout my day.

For the first time since starting 28daysof.me, I am considering if I continue with this experiment in this way – perhaps daily blog posting just isn’t a good set up for a meditation experiment.

Today’s Brainwave Activity

brainwave graph

Blue = alpha waves, 47% (Day 1 was 43%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = beta waves, 37% (Day 1 was 34%)
Pink = gamma waves, 16% (Day 1 was 19%)

Today’s Meditation

Today I did another 15 minute Headspace meditation. My alpha waves were higher than yesterday, so that is good. I didn’t realise how tired I was until I was getting the tired ‘noddies’ during my meditation.

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Pushed The Boat Out

I had a bit of a reality check yesterday. It’s never easy adding extra tasks to our already busy lives – even something as nice as meditating. I would love to go away somewhere for this whole 28 Days experiment – somewhere nice and sunny with a beach… and spend the month getting all zen, but that is not what this blog is about – it is about seeing if I can make small changes in everyday life to be healthier and ultimately happier.

Today I pushed the boat out and tried a 40 minute meditation! Next level. I really loved it. It was a guided meditation session by Shinzen Young and this particular meditation was called the Thinking Process. He discussed how there are four different ways thoughts come into your mind during meditation:

Talking – monologue or dialogue
Images – any visuals that pop into your mind
Subtle processing – general background thoughts
Peace – when you manage to find space

He encourages you to be aware of when thoughts happen but hear the talking as just sound, and to see through the images. It is also about noticing how the thought process happens – how they come in and out of your mind. This method really helped me become more of an observer, rather than feeling and reacting to the individual thoughts.

“It is about seeing if we can make small changes in our everyday lives to be healthier and ultimately happier.”


Today I did a 40 minute guided meditation session from The Science of Enlightenment by Shinzen Young. Plus a 15 minute headspace session later in the day.

Today’s Brain Wave Tracking

graph, brain waves, meditation

Blue = Alpha waves, 65% (Day 1 was 43%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = Beta waves, 31% (Day 1 was 38%)
Pink = Gamma waves, 4% (Day 1 was 19%)

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Making Progress

I started my day today with 15 minutes of guided meditation. I have been finding meditating first thing in the morning really difficult for me – it’s when my brain is super active planning for the day ahead.

I became aware that I was getting really judgemental of myself because I was struggling to focus. My mind was its usual scatterbrain self and many thoughts kept popping in and out of my head. “why can’t you just stop thinking, why can’t you find the ‘peace’ you found yesterday, there must be something wrong with me because I can’t focus and be calm” 

But, then I started to find very small, very short moments of space. And these moments started growing! I still had the manic ‘I must get through all this stuff today’ thoughts but I was able to find small moments of calm, and miraculously these moments turned into more clarity and a general feeling of peace.

“I started to find very small, very short moments of space”

By the time I finished the session I felt genuinely happy and on top of things. It was quite a big difference from before my meditation – my day ahead hadn’t changed – I still had loads of work to get through and quite complex situations to solve, but my mind was clearer, I felt happy and I felt like I could handle whatever the day was going to throw at me.

I am officially calling this a small breakthrough! So there is hope, my meditation friends – if I can make a very, very small amount of progress after only a few days of meditation, you definitely can as well.


15 minutes of Headspace meditation first thing in the morning. Plus another 15 minute meditation at around 8pm just before I left work.

Today’s Brain Wave Activity

graph, brainwaves, meditation

Blue = alpha waves, 80% (Day 1 was 43%)
Yellow = beta waves, 20% (Day 1 was 38%)
Pink = gamma waves, 0% (Day 1 was 19%)

Now, I am not sure if there was a technical issue with the graph, or if I was actually zen enough to have 0% gamma. Not even sure if it is possible have have 0% gamma…?

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Paris Road Trip

Today I went to Paris.

This trip was probably not what you are imagining. There was no strolling down the Champs-Élysées, or sipping champagne under the Eiffel Tower, or even having a good old slab of camembert beside the Seine. This was 12+ hours in a car, and a 1.5 hour meeting for work.

It was a stressful day – travel has a way of zapping your energy and making you feel pretty average. But, I did manage to get in quite a bit of meditation.

The 15 minutes I did on the way to Paris was really nice. It was difficult to find the mental clarity and space because I was in a car with three work mates, but I did manage to find a very small amount of calm.

On the way back to Amsterdam I started using The Joy of Being by the Life Flow Meditation Centre. It talks about ‘spot meditations’. These are really short meditations (20-30 seconds)  that you can use at any time, but especially in the heat of the moment, to calm your mind and be able to see clearly what is actually happening. This sounds easier said than done but I am keen to try this over the next few days.

I didn’t make any specific progress today, or have any breakthrough but it did show me that if you want to meditate, you will find the time.


I tried 1 Giant Mind for the first time today and liked it. The only problem I had was when your phone goes to sleep, it stops playing, so you will need to adjust your phone settings to keep the screen awake longer.

I also started using Life Flow Meditation Centre and Ross Edwards– The Joy of Being. So far so good.

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Tired and Wired

Today I’m tired. But I also feel strangely wired.

I feel if I stop for a second I will fall asleep, so I keep marching through my to-do list for the day.

I got in a short meditation session. My brain was really manic, and I feel like I had lost some of the ‘zen’ I had managed to find over the past few days. But this is ok, and all part of the journey and some days the meditation will feel amazing, and some will feel frustrating or maybe even pointless.

But, tonight it’s ladies night. Just what I need – girl pals and wine.


15 minutes of Headspace

Today’s Brain Wave Activity

28 days of meditation day 8

Blue = alpha waves, 67% (Day 1 was 43%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = beta waves, 30% (Day 1 was 38%)
Pink = gamma waves, 4% (Day 1 was 19%)

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Meditating Hungover

Today I’m feeling rough – ladies night got a bit boozy, as expected.

I meditated first thing in the morning because I was curious how my brain wave activity was after the alcohol. I am definitely one of these people that get the ‘post alcohol guilts’ – “what did I say to that person, I hope they knew I was joking, I really hope I didn’t say anything offensive, was it ok that I mentioned that…” So I was anticipating quite a jittery meditation session.

I didn’t manage to get the calmness and clarity I was achieving a few days ago, but looking at the actual data, I did keep my alpha waves relatively high and the gamma and beta low. (meaning I was managing not to think and process and judge too much) This was really positive and again feels like I am making small amounts of progress….(or was it just because I was hungover!?)

I did feel a lot calmer after the session than before.

I am keeping this post short today – I’m off to eat some grubby food and try not to feel too sorry for myself.


Today I did Kristin Neff’s Body Scan which is part of Mindful in May.

Today’s Brain Wave Activity

meditation graph

Blue = alpha waves, 64% (Day 1 was 43%) This is what I am trying to increase
Yellow = beta waves, 31% (Day 1 was 38%)
Pink = gamma waves, 6% (Day 1 was 19%)

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Understanding Mindfulness

Today I did another session by Shinzen Young. It was more a lecture on meditation than an actual guided meditation.

I am getting so much out of his teachings. I am loving the apps and short meditations (Headspace, 1 Giant Mind etc) for the fact that they are making meditation so accessible, but I strongly recommend investing some time in educating yourself to a slightly deeper level on mindfulness and meditation. I’m understating a lot more about the ‘why’ from listening to Young and this, at least for me, is motivating – if I truly understand what I am doing and how this is impacting me, I am more inclined to make it a habit.

He talks about when we manage to be mindful in our everyday lives, as in directly connecting with the current moment – which might be a conversation, putting on make up, eating, hanging out washing – this sense of uniting and connecting the mind with these actions is highly ecstatic and intrinsically joyful.

Now, I’m discovering ‘being mindful’ is easier said than done – immediately after this meditation session I had a shower and tried, quite a few times, to be mindful – I tried to feel how the water felt on my skin, how the body wash smelt, what sounds I could hear etc…and I couldn’t keep my mind focused at all – not even for 3 seconds! But, I will keep trying to be mindful in the small moments of my day this week and see if I can make some improvements!

Today’s Brain Wave Activity

meditation, graph brain waves

Blue = alpha waves, 63% (Day 1 was 43%) This is what I am trying to increase
Yellow = beta waves, 29% (Day 1 was 38%)
Pink = gamma waves, 8% (Day 1 was 19%)


40 minute meditation / lecture by Shinzen Young

Mindful in May also has a blog post on bringing this mindfulness into everyday activities.

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Meditation Fail Day

Today was not a good day in my journey of becoming more mindful.

I woke up before my alarm feeling anxious about all the things I knew I needed to get done at work today. I meditated, but could feel my mind trying to sneak off to pre-plan for potential issues that might come up in my day ‘stay here mind – right in this moment – stop bloody sneaking off!’

Work was nuts, as expected. I had planned on trying to find small moments in my day to be more mindful, but I succeeded to do this all of zero times.

Today was meditation fail day. I feel a bit rubbish about not being able to be a bit more on top of things today.


15 minute Headspace app.

Today’s Brain Wave Activity

brainwave data, meditation, mindfulness

Blue = Alpha waves, 59% (Day 1 was 43%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = Beta waves, 25% (Day 1 was 38%)
Pink = Gamma waves, 16% (Day 1 was 19%)

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Real Life

This is my real, actual life and fitting in these experiments around an already busy schedule is sometimes pretty challenging.

At some point today I decided I needed to lower my expectations for how much progress I am able to make when work is super busy.

And I’m ok with this. Adjusting my expectation and going easy on myself is all part of the experience, and journey, and this blog.

I guarantee if I was meditating on my own (so without the blog that makes me accountable) I wouldn’t have meditated yesterday and today. I am sure this is a really common scenario for anyone who is new to meditation – as soon as life gets busy, the meditation stops and this is of course when we need it most.

I can’t say that my meditations over the past two days have ‘saved’ me in anyway, maybe I am a little bit better at dealing with the stress and work load, but then again maybe not. But I do feel like if I keep this up, and get better at meditating and being mindful during my day, I will be able to stay more calm and focused during these busy periods.

Tomorrow I am going to do a guided group meditation session before work  – pumped.


15 minutes 1 Giant Mind guided meditation before work.
5 minutes ‘non guided’ meditation
3 minutes Muse exercise  (results below)

Today’s Brain Wave Activity

graph, brainwave data

Blue = Alpha waves, 68% (Day 1 was 43%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = Beta waves, 30% (Day 1 was 38%)
Pink = Gamma waves, 2% (Day 1 was 19%)

*The graph looks a bit sparse today because this was the recording from my 5 minute session, so there wasn’t as much data recorder overall.


Photo credit: My Amsterdam by PicturelySpoken

Results from my 3 minute Muse session above.

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Meditation Class

Today I arrived at work more calm and grounded than I have in a very long time.

I started my day with a 45 minute meditation class at Delight Yoga.The class was split up into two sections. The first part was mostly about teaching us how to focus – and the teacher did this by placing a lit candle about an arm’s length in front of each of us and instructed us to focus on the flame. He also used this time to explain how to sit and generally what to expect during meditation.

The second part of the class was a 20 minute guided meditation.

It was so nice to meditate in a group environment – even though there isn’t any actual interaction, it still feels like you are sharing your experience with the other people in the room and you are not alone in this sometimes scary and confronting endeavour.

The downside was my back really hurt during the class, and my legs kept falling asleep. I tried to not fidget too much but I kept needing to release my back and unfold my legs to get rid of the pins and needles. According to the teacher this will get easier the more you practice.

It also felt very weird for me to leave a yoga studio and be in more pain than when I arrived! (Might need to do a bit of pre-meditation stretching next time)

Overall it was a great experience. I left feeling really calm, a little bit tired but very much looking forward to going back for another session soon.

It was such a beautiful morning today in Amsterdam, it made getting up an hour earlier so much easier to handle.

Meditation Activity

45 minute guided meditation class at Delight Yoga Amsterdam.
10 minute Headspace meditation at lunchtime at work. My beta and gamma waves were higher, which makes sense because it was in the middle of a busy work day.

 Today’s Brain Wave Activity

brain wave data 28 days of me

Blue = Alpha waves, 47% (Day 1 was 43%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = Beta waves, 35% (Day 1 was 38%)
Pink = Gamma waves, 19% (Day 1 was 19%)

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How Do You Make It A Habit?

A few people have been asking me if I will keep going with daily meditation once the 28 days is up. I’d really like to, but I know it is going to be harder once the experiment is over and other things take priority.

So how do you make meditation a daily habit?

Check out Mindful in May’s interview with BJ Fogg  who is the creator of Tiny Habits. He talks about how it is important, first of all, to find the right time in your day to integrate a new habit. I am finding with meditation that perhaps first thing in the morning isn’t the best time for me. I thought it would be because I am a bit of a ‘morning person’ and I often do some sort of yoga or exercise in the morning, but with meditation it’s different –  mornings is when my brain is most active and it is the hardest time for me to find the mental space.

BJ Fogg

Fogg also talks about you can’t rely on the initial motivation and energy you have for a new ‘thing’, because of course this will fade. Instead, make sure you are doing the thing you are trying to make into a daily habit everyday, even if it is only for 10 seconds, because this will help you establish it in your daily routine.

It is an interesting talk and worth a watch for anyone who is trying to meditate more, or anyone who is trying to make big or small changes their lives.

I thought I had set myself up for a really good meditation session today – it was towards the end of the day, I had done a yoga class earlier, I took a hot shower, I closed the curtains and and laid on the bed. Bliss! Except that I kept having to stop myself falling asleep! I guess I just unintentionally set myself up in an environment that was too cosy.

Today I did Mindful in May Week 2 Meditation

Today’s Brain Wave Activity

Day 14 graph

Blue = Alpha waves, 41% (Day 1 was 43%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = Beta waves, 34% (Day 1 was 38%)
Pink = Gamma waves, 25% (Day 1 was 19%)

Photo credit: nytimes.com
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What Position Do You Meditate In?

I have been playing around with a few different meditation positions after my meditation class the other day because my back was so sore from sitting up straight for most of the 40 minutes!

A lot of meditation resources say to find a position that is comfortable for you – so either sitting cross-legged, (with or without supports like pillows or a wall), sitting in a chair or lying down. Lying down is definitely my favourite because it’s so relaxing but as I found yesterday, if you are tired it can be hard not to fall asleep.

I don’t like sitting in a chair to meditate. I think it is just a personal thing – I tend to gravitate to the floor a lot, even when I’m just chilling out or watching T.V.


I would love to be able to comfortably meditate in a seated cross legged position. And, I can only assume it is beneficial for your posture as you are training your back muscles to sit up straight. I did feel my back muscles the next day after my meditation class so there was some strengthening happening for sure.

I’ve decided from today, and for the next week, I will work on meditating sitting up straight with my legs crossed in front of me (Burmese), and see how this affects my meditation and, potentially, my posture.

Here is an article on how to sit comfortably during your meditation practice.

And here is a short video from the guys at 1 Giant Mind on what to do if your meditation position becomes uncomfortable.

Today’s Meditation

15 minute 1 Giant Mind session

Today’s Brainwave Activity

150515 Day 15 Graph


Blue = Alpha waves, 43% (Day 1 was 43%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = Beta waves, 37% (Day 1 was 38%)
Pink = Gamma waves, 20% (Day 1 was 19%)

Image credit: Michael A. Michail

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Everything You Need To Know About Meditation

Charlie Knoles is a massive expert on meditation – he has been pretty much meditating for his entire life. In this talk below (18 minutes) he debunks the biggest myths about meditation and why we are all capable of a daily meditation practice.

Today’s Meditation

15 minutes Headspace – this was the last one in Level 2

Today’s Brainwave Activity

meditation data, graph, brainwaves

Blue = Alpha waves, 70% (Day 1 was 43%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = Beta waves, 27% (Day 1 was 38%)
Pink = Gamma waves, 3% (Day 1 was 19%)

Photo credit: charlieknoles.com

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I No Longer Fear Being Inside My Own Head

There’s been something on my mind now for a few days, and I was unsure if I should write about it or not, mainly because I risk sounding mildly crazy.

I am starting to no longer fear being inside my own head, with my own thoughts and my own feelings.

In fact, I am starting to really enjoy being there….

Previously, being alone with my thoughts was scary. I have a very active mind and although this might sound strange, I didn’t want to spend too much time with my own thoughts and how these thoughts made me feel. It wasn’t as though they were particularly negative, but I just preferred not to give these thoughts any attention. Instead, I set out to achieve so much in my daily life that there just isn’t time to think, or deal with the feelings. Well, that is what I tell myself anyhow – I wish I could stop for a bit and just ‘be’ and ‘feel’ but I’m far too busy…

“I am starting to no longer fear being inside my own head, with my own thoughts and my own feelings.”

And the really scary thing about this is that then you are so reliant on your conditions and surrounding for happiness. ‘I need these things, this place, this job, this person’ to stay happy, because the alternative is I have to spend time alone with me, and my thoughts, and quite frankly, that would be pretty awful.

What I am finding from the meditation is that happiness is within me (I did warn you that this was going to get a bit left field…). I just needed to give myself the time and the space to find it. I realise this is an odd thing to say, but it feels like for the first time I have truly become mates with myself. And because of this, I am no longer as scared. And because I am no longer scared, I feel far more free.

Now, this doesn’t mean I am going to make any harsh changes in my life but what is exciting about all this is I feel like I now have the potential to be better – a better girlfriend / employee / daughter / friend.

I still have a very, very long way to go on this journey, and perhaps the people in my life won’t even start to feel or notice any change for a long time, but that is ok because even the fact that this change has started, and I am motivated to keep exploring this, is enough for now.

Today’s Meditation

15 minutes of 1 Giant Mind, sitting with legs crossed in front of me

Today’s Brainwave Activity

brain wave meditation data

Blue = Alpha waves, 69% (Day 1 was 43%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = Beta waves, 28% (Day 1 was 38%)
Pink = Gamma waves, 2% (Day 1 was 19%)

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Mindful Moments

Ok, so I’m meditating daily, reading articles on meditation and mindfulness and I am becoming more aware of how I am feeling and (very slowly) making small steps to calm my mind and be more focused. But what I am still really struggling with is creating mindful moments in my day.

I pretty much use most of my down time to process things in my head. For example, cycling to work I go through a check list of everything I need to get done that day, I usually get obsessed with one particular thing, stressed about that thing, get myself pretty worked up about it and arrive at work stressed and ready for my day! Ha, what an absolutely rubbish way to prepare for work. It is probably as effective as getting drunk before trying to run a marathon.

I do this all day long – in the shower I’m thinking about something that happened yesterday, having breakfast I’m reacting to something that is happening on my phone, taking a walk during lunch I am going over a meeting I have in the afternoon… and it goes on.

I am sure I am not the only one – we live busy lives and by doing this ‘mental gynmastics’, at least for me, feels like I am optimising my down time.

So, finally, this morning I was able to be mindful while cycling to work! It definitely didn’t come easily, my brain kept wanting to go back to ‘planning mode’ but eventually I managed to just ‘be’. I saw things for the first time ever and this is quite shocking as I’ve probably done this particular cycle route at least 500 times. The best part was it made me feel pretty good – I actually felt my mood lift as I started to really see the trees and canals and hear the traffic and birds.

I arrived at work feeling like I just gave my brain a mini holiday! I can 100% recommend trying it. Here are a few times to try and be more present:

— Having a cup of tea
— Taking a shower
— Doing exercise
— Having a conversation (this is a great one – how many times does your mind wonder off when talking to someone? For me it is quite a lot!)

It isn’t easy, so if it doesn’t work for you the first few times, keep trying.

Here are 5 tips for integrating mindfulness into your everyday life

Today’s Meditation

20 minute Headspace meditation in the evening. I meditated after going to the gym and before dinner – I struggled a bit because as the meditation went on I got more and more hungry!

Today’s Brainwave Activity

 28 days of meditation

Blue = Alpha waves, 66% (Day 1 was 43%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = Beta waves, 31% (Day 1 was 38%)
Pink = Gamma waves, 3% (Day 1 was 19%)

Image credit: Headspace

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Is Morning Or Evening Meditation Better?

Today I wanted to see if there was a difference in my brain wave activity when I meditated before work, and then in the evening after yoga class.

I did exactly the same meditation both times. Results are below.

Morning Meditation Brainwave Results

brainwave data, graph meditation

Blue = Alpha waves, 45% (Day 1 was 43%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = Beta waves, 33% (Day 1 was 38%)
Pink = Gamma waves, 22% (Day 1 was 19%)

Evening Meditation Brainwave Results

28 days of me, brainwave data

Blue = Alpha waves, 67% (Day 1 was 43%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = Beta waves, 30% (Day 1 was 38%)
Pink = Gamma waves, 2% (Day 1 was 19%)

In my evening meditation session, my Alpha waves were higher and my Gamma waves were quite a bit lower (which roughly translates to me being in a calmer state of mind). I definitely felt more grounded and focused after yoga than I did before work, so this isn’t surprising. I would like to be able to get my morning sessions as ‘calm’ as my evening sessions – right now I still find it very hard not to run through my to-do list for the day when I meditate before work.

According to this article, when to meditate could be dependent on what you hope to get out out it.

 Today’s Meditation

Mindful in May week 3 : Mindfulness of breath, sounds and thoughts.

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Time-Poor Meditating

Not surprisingly, the hardest time to meditate is when life is super busy. Once I actually sit down, close my eyes and start, the stress begins to dissolve. But right up until that point, the meditation is just another thing on my already hefty to-do list that I need to tick off.

On these really busy days I don’t manage to reach the same level of calm that I have been able to on much quieter days, but I am still very much a beginner and I am hoping this will come with practice.

When we are busy the first things that drop off are the stuff we need the most – exercise / eating healthy / doing yoga / getting enough sleep. We all know it, but we still do it.

blog-getting-to-know-stress-58 (1)

Image credit: headspace.com

I am really going to try and keep up the daily meditations after this 28 days is complete, and especially in busy times. I may be able to convince myself that I don’t have time for the gym, but lets get a bit real here – a 10 minute meditation is actually nothing – sit, close your eyes, breathe, done.

The team at Mindful in May have written an article on this topic. They also share tips / steps to finding greater emotional freedom through mindfulness, which is especially relevant when you are stressed and busy:

1. Notice when you are having a thought that is negative or creating emotional discomfort.
2. Ask yourself, is this thought moving me towards or away from what I value and how I want to be living?
3. If you discover the thought is moving you away from who you want to be and how you want to live in the world, then simply let the thought go and unhook from the toxic radio station in your mind that is sending you unhelpful messages. Realise that this thought, is just a thought and not an authority.
4. Take a moment to bring compassion to yourself as you recognise and uncover the underlying emotion that is fuelling these negative, unhelpful thought streams.
5. Remind yourself that the nature of the mind is to think. It is constantly producing thoughts, some of which are creative and inspired and others which are holding you captive and bringing you down. Realise that you don’t have to believe every thought that comes into your mind. Mindfulness, that capacity to be aware of what is happening from moment to moment, helps you guard your own mind, carefully choosing which thoughts you are letting influence your choices and life.

List credit: Mindful in May

And if you are really, really time poor, here are 5 mini meditations from MindBodyGreen you can do in 1 minute.

Today’s Meditation

15 minutes 1 Giant Mind

Today’s Brainwave Activity

150520 Day 20 Graph

Blue = Alpha waves, 75% (Day 1 was 43%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = Beta waves, 25% (Day 1 was 38%)
Pink = Gamma waves, 0% (Day 1 was 19%)

+ Read more

Mindful In May

Just before I started 28 Days of Meditation a good friend of mine sent me the link to Mindful in May. I instantly got pretty excited about what these guys are doing – learn to meditate through their online guided meditation course and help raise money to bring clean drinking water to developing countries. What a great concept!


Dr Elise Bialylew

Mindful in May was started in 2012 by Dr Elise Bialylew. She sounds like a pretty epic individual – her CV covers coach, meditation teacher and social entrepreneur who’s also trained as a doctor and psychiatrist.

“It takes just 10 minutes a day to bring more focus and effectiveness into your daily life” 

Each day for 31 days you receive an email with a link to that day’s meditation practice (each week has a different focus), plus interviews from the experts, links to blog posts and other nice little perks like tips and tricks on mindfulness and even recipes. (Mindful cooking, why not?)

The guided meditations are nice and short (around 10 minutes) and they are, in a way, mental trainings for being more mindful in everyday life.

“Just like our bodies, our minds need training to function at their best. Mindfulness meditation is a form of mental training that supports the mind to be more focussed, clear and effective. It’s often described as the practice of bringing your full attention, in an open, non-judgmental way to the present moment.” 



You receive quite a bit of information each day, but the nice thing is you can take it at your own pace – if you don’t have time to read all the articles immediately, you can get back to them when you do.

Today’s Meditation

20 minutes Headspace

Today’s Brainwave Activity

28 Days of Me, brainwave data, meditation, mindfulness

Blue = Alpha waves, 73% (Day 1 was 43%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = Beta waves, 26% (Day 1 was 38%)
Pink = Gamma waves, 1% (Day 1 was 19%)

+ Read more

Morning Meditation

They say there is no real right or wrong time to meditate, but it seems the majority of people like to meditate in the mornings. I guess it is because it’s such a nice way to set up your day. I am, however, getting better results (meaning high Alpha waves, more zen) when I meditate in the evenings, at least at the moment.

I meditated this morning and I knew, even without seeing the brainwave data, that my mind was super active. Work is really busy for me at the moment so this isn’t surprising at all. I am now managing to find moments of calm (in my day and during meditation) but I think it will be a long time until I am able to meditate in the mornings during a busy phase and find my calm place.

Another part of morning meditation I have been thinking about recently is exactly when to do it. You shouldn’t meditate on a full stomach, but the problem I often have is when I get out of bed I am usually pretty hungry (borderline famished), so the idea of having to wait another 10-20 minutes to eat is devastating (ok, devastating might be a strong word but trying to sit still and be all calm and focused when you are hungry is really bloody hard!) I think the trick is, if you are really hungry, eat something small like some fruit, that way you can keep the growling stomach at bay and still meditate on a relatively empty stomach.

About a week ago I said I was going to try and meditate sitting up (rather than lying down or sitting in a chair). I decided this after my back and hips were so sore during my first meditation class. I have been doing this for the past week and I am surprised that already I am finding it way easier to sit in this position for 10 and even 20 minutes. Jon Kabat-Zinn has a really nice way of describing meditation posture – he says to find a position that represents a “dignified posture” for you. I like this – I often think of it when I sit down to meditate and it helps my body find when it needs to be positioned.

Here is an article on how to prepare for a meditation session. And here is a Dummies Guide to eating and drinking before meditation.

Today’s Meditation

Week 3 of Mindful in May (10 minute meditation)

Today’s Brainwave Activity

meditation-graph- data


Blue = Alpha waves, 42% (Day 1 was 43%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = Beta waves, 36% (Day 1 was 38%)
Pink = Gamma waves, 23% (Day 1 was 19%)

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Did I Just Meditate Away A Migraine?

I am a migraine suffer, I have had way less recently but sometimes they still manage to sneak in to my life.

I had one today and miraculously it went away after I meditated. I am not claiming a 20 minutes meditation session can cure a migraine, because this would be massive, but this did happen to me today.

The connection between stress relief and meditation is pretty strong and has been documented regularly, and the same goes for migraines and stress, so it does make sense that regular meditation and being more mindful could be helpful for migraine suffers.

In 2014, 19 adults participated in a study to see if meditation and mindfulness had an impact on the severity or duration of migraines. One group received standard medical care and the other group participated in Jon-Kabat-Zinn’s MBSR, which is an 8 week program that teaches people to be more mindful.

“The researchers found that the patients who completed the MBSR program tended to have 1.4 fewer headaches per month that were less severe.”

The results were not significant enough to prove that it wasn’t just by chance that the MBSR group had less migraines, but I hope they continue to research this subject. I know how insanely debilitating migraines can be and I am starting to understand how beneficial meditation and mindfulness can be for stress management, so I definitely think there is a connection that needs to explored further.

Today’s Meditation

20 minute Headspace

Today’s Brainwave Activity

brainwave data, meditation

Blue = Alpha waves, 42% (Day 1 was 43%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = Beta waves, 36% (Day 1 was 34%)
Pink = Gamma waves, 19% (Day 1 was 19%)

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Meditation Termonology

I throw some terms around quite loosely in this blog so I want to take the time to explain some of the tools and terms I am using in this experiment.

Headspace App

Headspace was founded in 2010 by Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk, and Rich Pierson, a creative developer. This is definitely my go-to meditation. It is really simple to use, the animations are playful and Headspace makes meditation so accessible. A bonus is Andy’s voice is super easy to listen to. You can sign up and get the first 10 (10 minute) session for free, and then you can decide if you want to purchase a subscription.

Cost: Free for the starter pack, about 8USD a month when purchasing a 12-month subscription
Great for: newbies, mindfulness, anyone who wants to jump straight in and give it a go

headspace app

Image source: headspace.com

“Headspace focuses on the practise on mindfulness. In short, at Headspace we define mindfulness as the intention to be present in the here and now, fully engaged in whatever is happening, free from distraction or judgement with a soft and open mind. Meditation is a simple exercise of familiarisation with the qualities of mindfulness. It helps optimise conditions for training the mind to be calmer, clearer and kinder.”

1 Giant Mind

“The 1 Giant Mind technique is for anyone who wants to feel happier, less stressed and more energised. Their approach to meditation is easy and effortless. No previous experience is needed. Anyone can learn this meditation technique in 12 easy steps.”

I really like their app – it is simple to use and you start and end each session with a mini questionnaire so you can monitor results (E.g. – how you are feeling right now, how do you feel about meditating right now). You will need to update your settings on your phone so the auto lock doesn’t come on because the app switches off once this happens.

Here is 1 Giant mind’s vimeo page where they share lots of tips and tricks on how to meditate.

Cost: Free
Great for: getting a bit deeper

Mindful in May

A one month online mindfulness challenge starting on the 1st of May each year. The great thing about this challenge is you also fundraise to help bring clean water to developing countries. Registration has closed for this year but you can still get involved by sponsoring participants. As of today, they have raised over $260,000, and they still have 7 days to go. What champs!


Image source: mindfulinmay.org

Great for getting involved in a meditation community

Jon Kabat-Zinn

My new hero. He has pretty much dedicated his life to understanding and teaching mindfulness.


Is a brain fitness tool that helps you train your brain to be able to become more calm and focused. For 28 Days of Meditation I am using the Muse headband to monitor by brainwaves, and display this data on a graph. Normally you would use the Muse headband in conjunction with the app. The app is really well done – you start off small (just 3 minute sessions) and the app gives you instant feedback – the stormier the weather the more active your brain, the more you manage to relax and stay calm, the more the weather ‘clears up’ and if you are really making progress, you can hear some little birdies.


Image source: choosemuse.com

Cost: About 250USD

Daily Brainwave Graph

I am using the Muse headband to monitor my brain waves and showing this information on a graph. I am mainly interested in Alpha waves (which occur when you are calm and relaxed) and seeing if I can increase these over the course of the 28 days.

Alpha waves –  occur when relaxed and calm
Beta waves – occur when, for example, actively thinking or problem-solving
Gamma waves – occur when involved in higher mental activity and consolidation of information.

(Source: www.choosemuse.com)


There are many different definitions of what meditation is and, as a meditation newbie, I don’t feel qualified to write my own definition just yet. From what I have found this one comes close for me:

“Meditation is not a technique but a way of life. Meditation means ‘a cessation of the thought process’. It describes a state of consciousness, when the mind is free of scattered thoughts and various patterns.”

This definition is from Healthandyoga.com


“Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them.”

That definition is taken directly from this site, and if you have the time it is worth a read.

Today’s Meditation

Sam Harris Looking For The Self (26 minutes)

Today’s Brainwave Activity

sam harris

Blue = Alpha waves, 48% (Day 1 was 43%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = Beta waves, 33% (Day 1 was 34%)
Pink = Gamma waves, 19% (Day 1 was 19%)[/readmore]

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Stigma Associated With Meditation

Even though meditation and mindfulness is pretty hot right now, the truth is, for a lot of people, it is still just a bit too far out of their comfort zone – it’s just that bit too ‘hippie’ or ‘new age’ to consider giving it a go.

Individuals like Jon Kabat-Zinn and Andy Puddicombe are doing a stellar job breaking the stigmatism that is often associated with meditation, but western culture has a long way to go before we truly embrace meditation and mindfulness.

Before I stated this 28 Days I was also wary about the ‘new age’ side of meditation. I listened to a few different guided meditations to see what ones I needed to purchase or download for this challenge and some of them I just couldn’t get through. I didn’t like the ‘hippie’ music, I couldn’t associate with the woman with the foreign accent and I just really, really didn’t like being in that space. But, like with everything, it is all about finding what works for you. For me, at this very early stage in my meditation journey, I need something like Headspace or 1 Giant Mind – apps that are visually similar to what I am used to, with instructions that I find simple to follow and with very little reference to spirituality and religion.

In his book Waking Up Sam Harris talks about (amongst other things) how mindfulness and meditation play an important role outside of religion and spirituality. The book is very philosophical, and extremely interesting. You can listen to Chapter 1 here, which includes sections on both meditation and mindfulness.

sam harris waking up

For anyone who wants to give meditations a go, but their view of meditation is just a bit too tainted by the hippie stigma, my advice is to find something that works for you, and take things slow. It might be Headspace, but it might be something else entirely. I haven’t tried all of the many mindful apps out there but here are a few that might work for you.

Today’s Meditation

20 minute Headspace. This is the first time I have stopped the meditation before it was finished – I was extremely tired so I decided to stop it a few minutes early.

Today’s Brainwave Activity

150525 Day 25 Graph

Blue = Alpha waves, 56% (Day 1 was 43%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = Beta waves, 34% (Day 1 was 34%)
Pink = Gamma waves, 10% (Day 1 was 19%)

+ Read more

Meditation And Relationships

I’ve done a lot of reading on how meditation can help if you are not doing great – if you are super stressed, suffer from anxiety or depression or facing chronic illness. This of course is truly amazing stuff. However, I am equally as excited about what meditation and mindfulness can do for those of us who are, fairly ‘OK’ and who just want to be better at being ourselves.

And what I am specifically interested in is our relationships. Because at the end of the day, these are what really matter  – our relationships with our partners, family, co-workers, boss, friends and, of course, also with people in our lives that cause us stress. Our interactions with people are what make up our day – they are quite often responsible for how we feel when we get home from work or get into bed at night.

Andy (Headspace) encourages us to think about our relationships during his guided meditations, and how our conversations and interactions affect the people in our lives. If we are less stressed, and more in the present it will have a positive effect on the people around us, which will in turn have a positive effect on us.

I also think he draws our attention to our relationships because this makes it ‘real’. This helps us understand what the few minutes a day sitting in silence actuals means to us and how it can feel once we stand up from the meditation and are back in the real world.


Image credit: Headspace

Focusing on my relationships with others in this way helps me to put things in perspective. My mind is so active planning and solving that sometimes there just isn’t space for much else. But when you are alone with your eyes closed, and you take the time to let thoughts and feeling arise about someone you love, it’s amazing how things become clearer. Does it actually matter if I don’t put that load of washing on tonight, or if I don’t send that email until the morning? Actually, it doesn’t, but it does matter if I stop and listen to that person and actually hear what they are saying and give them my full attention. I have been trying to do this more over the past couple of weeks and I can’t say for sure if the people in my life can tell any difference but something feels different to me, in a good way. Prioritising the ‘here and now’ when dealing with people in my life (even the ones that cause me stress) feels like a good thing.

There is quite a lot of articles written about how meditation can help with relationships. Here are a couple of them:

Three reasons why mindfulness meditation helps relationships

Headspace for Relationships

Today’s Meditation

Shinzen Young‘s Covering The Whole Sensory Field meditation

Today’s Brainwave Activity


Blue = Alpha waves, 75% (Day 1 was 47%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = Beta waves, 25% (Day 1 was 34%)
Pink = Gamma waves, 0% (Day 1 was 19%)

+ Read more

Emergency Lunchtime Meditation

Today I was completely frazzled. Work was insane.

By 11am I could feel a headache coming on, and my entire body felt wired. I was having trouble keeping my mind on what was being said in meetings. Today stress made me dumb. It’s actually a thing, I didn’t make it up. You can read about it here.

At lunchtime I decided to go outside to a park near work, find a bench and meditate. And it worked. It wasn’t a ‘good’ meditation – my mind was super active and continuously trying to solve everything at once, but even the act of sitting down to meditate, and taking the time to try and find some space was really helpful. I came back to the office 20 minutes later and I felt more in control than I had been in the morning, and generally more present. I was able to concentrate better and process information.

It feels really amazing having this ‘tool’ available to me now. I need to remain cool-headed in my job – if I’m stressed it isn’t good for anyone. Ultimately, it would be nice to be able to do this ‘de-stress’ more efficiently – like taking a moment to breathe and decompress rather than having to actually leave the office. But that is what the meditation practice is for – you are practicing to help your mind find this ‘calm place’, that you can then tap into if and when you need it in everyday life. Sounds amazing – I won’t get to that level by the end of this 28 Days (because tomorrow is the last day…) but hopefully I will be able to reach that at some point in the future.

Today’s Meditation

10 minutes Headspace at lunchtime plus 15 minute 1 Giant Mindmeditation in the evening.

Today’s Brainwave Activity

brainwave data, meditation

Blue = Alpha waves, 68% (Day 1 was 47%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = Beta waves, 32% (Day 1 was 34%)
Pink = Gamma waves, 0% (Day 1 was 19%)

+ Read more

Most Significant Changes

Today is the last day of 28 Days of Meditation. Unlike my other challenges, (Raw food diet and CrossFit) 28 days feels like a very short period of time to get a true understanding of what meditation is and how ‘being more mindful’ can have an impact on my life. It feels like my current level of experience and knowledge is just the very tip of the iceberg and that my journey has just begun. But what an amazing, and insightful journey it has been so far.

So What Are The Most Significant Changes?

1. I feel more grounded. By grounded I mean more in touch with how I actually feel and more confident that decisions I make are based on a deeper understanding of the situation. I am not sure if that is the actual meaning of grounded but that is my interpretation of it in this context.

2. I also feel lighter – odd thing to say when I have just said I feel more grounded. But I feel like there isn’t as much ‘mess’ is my head and that feels like I have taken some weight off my shoulders.

3. I feel like sometimes, not always, but sometimes, I am more present. This is a really, really hard one for me but when I do manage to do it, it makes a bit difference to my conversation / day / meeting.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset


4. When I manage to have a ‘good’ meditation session I feel like I give myself a mini mental vacation. And this feels awesome. The best way to describe it is when you have come back from a really good holiday and you feel re-energised and really for anything. A few times this month I have managed to get this feeling from a meditation session.

5. I feel like my posture is a bit better! Makes sense right – I have been training my back muscles to get stronger while I am meditating sitting up with my legs crossed in front of me.

Here are some tips on how to make meditation a daily habit – that is the next challenge for me, seeing if I can keep up the daily meditation sessions without the blog to keep me accountable!

Soon I will also post my conclusions page that will include additional information on the graphs and data, plus my findings and overall experience from the challenge. But for now I will wish you a very grounded, and very ‘present’ day and I really hope you have enjoyed sharing this journey with me. X

Today’s Meditation

20 minutes Headspace before work. But the data didnt record properly so I also did a 15 minutes 1 Giant Mind session in the evening!

Today’s Brainwave Activity

28 days of me graph

Blue = Alpha waves, 64% (Day 1 was 47%) — this is the one I’m trying to increase.
Yellow = Beta waves, 32% (Day 1 was 34%)
Pink = Gamma waves, 4% (Day 1 was 19%)

+ Read more
Waves which occur when relaxed and calm
Waves which occur when, for example, actively thinking or problem-solving
Waves which occur when involved in higher mental activity and consolidation of information


Conclusions And Results

It has now been over four months since 28 Days of Meditation. For some reason I have struggled to get these final thoughts down (it is amazing how long things take when there isn’t a hard deadline!) but the time away from the daily blogging has helped me get a get a better understanding of the effects of the challenge and how meditation has had an impact on my life.


I had fairly low expectations for this experiment. I thought it might help a little with stress management but that was about it. What actually happened is that it had a really positive effect on my life – I feel calmer, more grounded and more in touch with how I feel and what I want.

yoga, meditation

The Brainwave Data Explained

During the 28 days I recorded brainwave data from almost all of my daily meditation sessions (I missed one day because of a work day trip to Paris). I monitored my Alpha, Beta and Gamma brainwaves. Here is a quick explanation of the different brainwaves:

Alpha – occur when relaxed and calm
Beta – occur when, for example, actively thinking or problem-solving
Gamma –  occur when involved in higher mental activity and consolidation of information
(Source: Choosemuse.com)

To keep things really simple, the general idea was to try and increase my Alpha waves. Here are a few key days:

Day 1: 43% Alpha
Day 3: 36% Alpha (Particularly stressful day)
Day 6: 80% Alpha (Mini break through)
Day 17: 69% (Getting more into the flow)
Day 26: 75% (And even more into the flow…)
Day 28: 64% (Final day)

28 days is a very short amount of time to explore the world of meditation, it really felt more like an introduction. So although the data is really interesting, and you can see on average my Alpha waves increasing and my Gamma and Beta decreasing, the results were a bit up and down (Day 6 was ‘better’ than Day 28). I think this had a lot to do with external factors (how busy I was that day, how stressful work was) and unfortunately it was not possible to record these outside factors and track them against the actual brainwave data.


Even though meditation is becoming more mainstream, to many it still has that hippy vibe and stigma associated with it. I’m a down to earth, no nonsense person so I wasn’t really looking forward to the spiritual or ‘hippy’ part. But, to my surprise it wasn’t really like this – it was more about being present and aware, and continuously coming back to the ‘now’, than anything deeper or more spiritual.

But what does it actually mean to be more ‘present’. I had read a bit about this before the experiment and I understood it to a degree, but it is only now that I truly understand what it means, at least to me. The best way I can describe it is this – the more stressed I am the more I tap out of how I really feel about something, or someone or a conversation or situation. The more that is going on in my head – trying to process things, making to-do lists (that I will never get to the end of), planning things, the harder it is for me to really be in the now. And I’ve discovered that the now is actually a pretty awesome place to be (ha! Who would have thought.)

When I’m able to fully engage in conversation, or take in a complex situation, or even do small things (like feeling the hot water on my skin in the shower in the morning rather than mentally running through my tasks for the day), the richer and more engaging my experience is, and the happier I am. I am finding I don’t need to be as concerned with the ‘what next and how am I going to solve that’ because funnily enough, these things tend to be easier to deal with if I haven’t spent the previous 24 hours stressing about them! I realise this is probably not the dictionary definition of ‘being more present’ but this is the best way I can describe it from my experience over the 28 days.

Jon Kabat-Zinn says it more eloquently than me:

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally.”

Day 17 28 Days of Meditation

The Main Changes

The main changes I have observed:

1. I can now give myself a ‘mini mental holiday’. I used to use every second of everyday to try to process and solve things in my head – sometimes big important things, but sometimes ridiculously small things like ‘should I get take away or should I cook tonight?’ But now, I deliberately take time to ‘be in the moment’. This is often when I’m cycling to and from work and it is amazing how free, focused and more content I feel when I arrive. Instead of spending the 15 minute journey getting worked up about something, I’m instead taking in what I am seeing and hearing. I’m even finding that when I do manage to be really present, I can get on a bit of a natural high from it. Sounds a bit odd, but it is completely how it feels.

2. I now understand how meditation and mindfulness are connected. For me at least, meditation is about training your mind to be present (mindful) in everyday life. Whether that is having a conversation with someone, or commuting to work, or having a cup of tea. And when I manage to do this, it completely changes my experience for the better.

I feel calmer, more grounded and more in touch with how I feel and what I want.

3. It has reenergised my passion for yoga. I used to be one of these people who was basically waiting for the ‘hippy’ parts of the yoga class to be done so we could just get on with the actual movement and exercise. But now, my whole experience during yoga classes has changed – I am more present, and open and I’m enjoying it so much more than when I didn’t ‘understand’ the connection to meditation and mindfulness.

4. I started meditating lying down and am now converted to meditating sitting up with my legs crossed in front of me. It took me about a week to get used to sitting up – my back and hips really hurt at first but it didn’t take long to get used to it. For me, I feel more ‘empowered’ by meditating in a seated position. I do sometimes meditate lying down but I find this is more of a relaxed and quite sleepy meditation.

5. During a couple of the meditations I became quite euphoric. I felt quite high with optimism and happiness and love. I can’t achieve this all the time (and I am not even sure if this is the purpose of meditating…) but it was a really cool feeling and experience.

6. I am better at decision-making. This might sounds like an odd conclusion to make but I feel I am more connected to how I really feel about a particular situation or problem. In a way, I felt like I used to spend so much time in my head going over stuff that was actually causing more confusion and taking me further away from solving anything, but now I feel like I can tap into my intuition easier and quicker.

7. I eat more mindfully. There has been quite a bit of research about how mindfulness can assist weight loss and I can see why. It is so much more satisfying to be more aware of how food tastes and smells and feels in your mouth than scoffing it down while your mind is elsewhere. I realise that sounds like a very obvious thing to say, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who eats ‘mindlessly’.

8. I could feel that I was ‘getting better’ at meditating over the 28 days. Meaning it was easier for me to observe thoughts and not get emotionally as connected to them. Towards the end I found that I was able to find more moments of calm, and then make these moments of calm longer.

9. I’ve realised that sounds are an important ‘trigger’ for me to get into a meditation. I tried using a few different types of guided meditations during the 28 days – some meditations start with being aware of how your body is feeling, others with breath and some by tapping into the sounds around you – both close by and far away. For me, I found the meditations where you are encouraged to connect early on to the sounds help me to get deep into the meditation quicker.

10. I had some visualisations during the 28 days, mostly these came when there was some sort of background ambient music playing on the guided meditation.

Tips For Anyone Wanting To Try Meditation:

1. Don’t think about it too much. Don’t judge yourself if you miss a day
2. Download Headspace’s free 10 10-minutes sessions and start here
3. Check out this link for other guided meditation apps
4. Find a time that works for you – my favourite time is in the evenings after work, but I know a lot of people like to meditate first thing in the morning
5. Make it a habit – again don’t think and don’t judge – if you miss a day it’s not the end of the world. If you don’t notice any changes straight away, that’s fine as well – just keep with it and give yourself time
6. Once you are a few sessions in, try some longer meditations or explanations on meditation. This was a bit of a game changer for me – I listened to one of Shinzen Young’s 40 minutes meditations and I all of a sudden had a deeper understanding of how to meditate and what it all means. I am sure I would have gotten there eventually using the apps, but for me at least this was really an important moment because it helped me understand how and why thoughts come into my mind when I meditate and it allowed me to more easily become the ‘observer’.
7. If it is available to you, go to a guided meditation class – it was such a great feeling to be able to ‘share’ the meditation session with other people
8. Most importantly set an amount of time that you will try meditation for (Eg – at least a week to 10 days) and stick to this. Most people I talk to say that they tried it but gave up by day 3. I honestly think you need to try daily meditation for at least a week to start to understand the benefits.


(Image credit: Headspace.com)

I have truly loved this journey once I got over the initial hurdle (around Day 4) of fitting this into my already busy life. Meditation has had a really positive effect on many aspects in my life – stress management, relationships, work and my ability to handle complex situations. Most importantly, it just feels amazing to have this ‘tool’ available to me now – I actively look for moments in my day that I can close my eyes – even for a few seconds and check back in. It is such a simple concept, and has been available to me all my life, but I’m only now realising how effective being mindful and ‘present’ can be.

I am currently meditating 4-5 times per week and still loving it.

In Asian languages, the word for ‘mind’ and the word for ‘heart’ are same. So if you’re not hearing mindfulness in some deep way as heartfulness, you’re not really understanding it.

— Jon Kabat-Zinn